Even though dining at nice restaurants is a part of our job description, there are a number of places around the globe we’re dying to try individually. Some of the spots have just opened. Others have simply eluded us for years. A few are just so far away that we’re not sure when we’ll ever be able to make a reservation. All of them are appetizing addresses editors around the office find amazing, and we’re pretty sure you will, too.
Kim Atkinson, Senior Vice President, Content
The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
Why: No California Wine Country restaurant has garnered more buzz than this St. Helena restaurant at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Meadowood resort—that’s thanks to the beautiful California-inspired cuisine created by chef Christopher Kostow and his team. Diners are treated to a nine- or 10-course tasting menu that makes good use of whatever’s in season, presented in gorgeous tableaus that speak to the ingredients’ freshness. The room combines everything I love about dining out—a sophisticated, casually elegant vibe, views of the alluring Napa countryside through every window, a truly comfortable place to relax (jeans are allowed and jackets are optional) and focus on the bounty of the local food and wine.
For the rest of Kim’s delicious list, click here.
Jennifer Kester, Executive Editor
The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.
Why: Since opening this Napa Valley masterpiece in 1994, Thomas Keller has remained one of the most influential chefs in the world. It’s because you don’t get just a meal at his Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant; you get a full epicurean experience. Keller creates two nine-course tasting menus daily spotlighting seasonal produce and organic meat—and no ingredient is repeated in any dish. While the menus change day-to-day, a mainstay is Keller’s playful “Oysters and Pearls,” a dish that features Island Creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar atop a pearl tapioca sabayon. With an impeccable starter like this introducing dinner, you know you’re in for a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Visit here for Jen’s other tasty selections.
Laura Downey, Managing Editor
Newmarket Hotel, Melbourne, Australia
Why: Visiting Australia has been on my bucket list for years. But now I have another reason to go thanks to Newmarket Hotel in Melbourne. The Latin-inspired menu created by chef Paul Wilson — who Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Anthony Bourdain says “changed the game in the Melbourne dining scene” — is calling my name. I can’t wait to try the albóndigas cazuela (spiced Mexican meatballs), soft shell crab tacos and the wood barbecue chorizo sausage, nectarine and pimentos padron.
To be tantalized by Laura’s complete bucket list, go here.
Sarah Gleim, Senior Content Editor
Why: I’m counting down the days until James Beard Award winner Sean Brock opens his newest outpost of Husk in Nashville this May. The philosophy will be similar to his Charleston restaurant—it will also focus on seasonal produce and local farmers. But where Charleston’s menu features mostly South Carolina seafood cooked in wood-burning ovens, Nashville will concentrate on Tennessee produce and traditional meat and three dishes prepared over homemade charcoal and embers. The space, which is located in a 19th-century brick building in the Rutledge Hill district now listed on the National Registry of Historic Homes, will have both outdoor and indoor hearth grills that will impart fantastic flavor profiles to the food. And for anyone that knows anything about the Nashville food scene, the menu will, of course, include hot chicken.
Want to see what else Sarah has cooking? Go here.
Michelle Doucette, Senior Content Editor
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.
Why: Every time I see another impossibly colorful dish from Blue Hill at Stone Barns—even the simple, raw, eat-with-your-fingers “Vegetables on a Fence”—I ponder a Hudson Valley pilgrimage. It’s not just chef Dan Barber’s gorgeous food that calls to me; it’s the Blue Hill dining experience, which starts with a tour of the four-season farm on which the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant is located. The fields’ bounty fulfills each night’s tasting menus, while the Stone Barns Center informs guests about sustainable farming. If it sounds like work, know that the restaurant’s concierge will help arrange everything—my Blue Hill trip is all about pleasure.
Michelle’s four other scrumptious-sounding picks can be found here.
Amanda Arnold, Senior Content Editor
Kai Restaurant, Chandler, Ariz.
Why: I’m intrigued by this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant that offers creative fine-dining cuisine inspired by the Native American Pima and Maricopa tribes of the area’s Gila River Indian Community. To sample a bit of everything, I’d love to partake of chef de cuisine Joshua Johnson’s 13-course Journey Menu, which includes dishes ranging from escargot and foie gras to grilled buffalo tenderloin and mesquite charred pumpkin and squash soup. The full menu—divided into sections “the birth,” “the beginning” and “the journey”—features saffron poached Spanish turbot with asparagus, shallots and caviar; venison with sage-infused gnocchi that incorporates a sweet chile and coffee rub, broccoli rabe puree, and pecorino and lingonberry jam; and foie gras and waffles (a buckwheat waffle with banana and cactus cream, and wolfberry). Plus, the view from the patio looks rather spectacular.
To see the other places that astound Amanda, click here.
DeMarco Williams, Senior Associate Editor
Why: This Bali beauty is one of those places that probably would have made my list even if I weren’t moved by the menu. With lily ponds, live bamboo and actively tended rice fields bordering the outdoor dining area, Sardine has a serenity about it that’s hard to put to words. As for the seafood-centric menu, I can certainly come up with a number of delightful terms to describe why I want to dine on the pan-seared wild snapper or grilled kingfish drizzled in balsamic beurre rouge, but I’m thinking “astounding” is a sufficient descriptor until I actually visit.
DeMarco’s complete delectable dream team can be found here.
Natalie Wearstler, Associate Editor
Din Tai Fung, Taipei City, Taiwan
Why: I’ve been a fan of steamed dumplings ever since I studied abroad in Hong Kong in college. With locations all over the world (including three in the United States), I could easily sneak in a visit to one of this famous dumpling house’s locations without having to get my passport stamped, but where’s the fun in that? I’m holding out for the day when I can enjoy pork buns and shrimp and pork shao mai at the original Taipei City locale.
Natalie’s just warming up. For her full list, go here.
Hayley Bosch, Content Editor
Why: It may be on every foodie’s bucket list, but René Redzepi’s more-than-innovative cuisine has my mouth watering. I’ve always been intrigued by Noma; Redzepi’s near-obsession with fresh and local produce from across Scandinavia is one of the restaurant’s many appeals. I love that he’s constantly experimenting — whether it’s with new techniques or new ingredients, Noma is consistently pushing gastronomy to the next level. And the fact that each of the 20-plus dishes is crafted as if it were a masterpiece fascinates me even more. When Redzepi isn’t in the kitchen artistically plating each course, he’s upstairs in the test kitchen playing mad scientist to create even more genius gastronomy.
Consider this Hayley’s appetizer. Go here for the five-course meal.
Caroline Patek, Content Editor
Le Calandre, Padua, Italy
Why: The northern Italian city of Padua (it’s about 40 minutes west of Venice and two hours north of Florence) is calling my name, as is the cuisine from chef Massimiliano Alajmo at Le Calandre. I’m intrigued by Alajmo’s idea that the gastronomic experience should heighten your senses, especially your sense of smell. He even went as far as to create a special scent for the dining room with his brother, enlisting the help of Italian artisans. The Grandi Classici tasting menu boasts the restaurant’s signature dishes such as cuttlefish cappuccino and saffron risotto with licorice powder, and my sweet tooth will thank me after a taste of the extra virgin olive oil puff pastry with apricot and vanilla puree.
Caroline’s got a lot more on her plate. Click here to see her full bucket list.
Alex Skjong, Content Editor
Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo
Why: Had I not come across a random tweet recommending the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I would most likely not know about this tiny sushi shop in Tokyo. As soon as I watched the film (which you should, too, whether you like sushi or not), I knew that Sukiyabashi Jiro had to make my must-visit restaurant list. The sushi chef Jiro creates (with the help of his staff and 50-year-old son) a culinary work of art, with each cut, garnish and fold executed with undeniable purpose. I’m fascinated by laser beam-focused, unwavering passion for a craft, so the chance to experience Jiro’s expertise through a meal at his 10-seat restaurant would be worth the journey.
To see what other places have Alex’s eye (and tummy), visit here.
Jordan Lawson, Content Editor
Why: Being from the South—and having grandparents who fed me straight from their garden—I know there’s nothing better than fresh, Southern ingredients, which is why there is no place I’d rather eat after a day in Charleston than Husk. Chef Sean Brock created a kitchen where the menu changes constantly based on what is fresh and available—and exclusively from the region—and presents it in a modern style. While the menu is always different, and the day’s selection is written on a giant chalkboard, I’m looking forward to dishes like a Virginia pork chop with tomatoes, kale and, of course, a side of cornbread with bacon straight from the cast iron skillet.
Make a reservation to Jordan’s full list by clicking here.
Photos Courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley, Sardine, Thomas Ibsen, Pasqual Happawana and Blue Hill at Stone Barns